Marin recognizes women's role in ocean conservation

06/13/2019

As a result of ocean warming and acidification, the majority of the planet’s coral reefs—which support a quarter of all marine species—will likely die by 2050. This week, the Marin County Board of Supervisors drew attention to this fact and numerous others related to the declining health of the ocean in a resolution that recognized June 8 in Marin as World Oceans Day. The day is not new: the United Nations recognized it worldwide in 2008. Marin’s resolution said, “The world’s oceans are in collapse due to the proliferation of plastics; overfishing and illegal fishing; marine debris; acidification; temperature rise; and rampant, poorly managed coastal development. Life in the oceans is collapsing even faster than on land.” The U.N. themed this year’s World Oceans Day on gender equality and as it relates to conservation and the sustainable use of marine resources. “Women (and people of all gender identification) have a valuable role to play in ocean protection,” the county’s resolution says, “Yet, opportunities have not been equitably encouraged, shared, valued, funded or celebrated in our communities and countries. Our climate-challenged oceans will only begin to heal through collective action by all peoples and nations worldwide.” Accordingly, the supervisors’ resolution celebrated three Marin women for their exceptional marine research and activism: Dr. Katrina Nielson, director of the Estuary and Ocean Science Center in Tiburon; Mary Crowley, C.E.O. of Ocean Voyages, Inc. in Sausalito; and Erika Woolsey, a Sausalito resident and marine biologist who collaborates with Stanford University’s Center for Ocean Solutions. The resolution urged people to follow in their lead and added, “Write your local legislator, donate to local ocean protection organizations or support urgently needed regulation of the commercial fishing industry. It’s time to do anything we can, here and now, to safeguard our precious, life-sustaining oceans.” Representatives from the San Geronimo Valley Planning Group and the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin commended the supervisors for the resolution. Ashley Eagle-Gibbs, the conservation director for the E.A.C., highlighted the ongoing importance of preserving the marine protected areas, which account for 16 percent of California’s coastline. Off the shores of Marin County, there are nine marine protected areas and two national marine sanctuaries. “When we take local students out to Agate Beach,” Ms. Eagle-Gibbs said, “it’s sad that we don’t find sea stars anymore, but then again, there are still so many interesting things to see.”